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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Struggling St. Rose Hospital gets $8 million lifeline from county

Hayward's St. Rose Hospital is still facing
a $6 million budget deficit this fiscal year.
ALAMEDA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Hayward's St. Rose Hospital is Southern Alameda County's main provider of indigent health care. This fact also means the hospital continually struggles to keep its doors open due to the number of Medi-Cal patients its sees on a daily basis, roughly 50 percent.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday sought to alleviate St. Rose Hospital's chronic financial problems by allocated $8 million in funding to the facility. The funding is expected to be parlayed into an additional $6.5 million in federal matching grants, bringing the total to over $14 million.

The hospital, however, is not out of the woods for the current Fiscal Year 2016-17. A $6 million budget deficit still exists. But Interim Alameda County Health Care Services Interim Director Rebecca Gebhart says the shortfall is actually just $3 million since federal matching dollars also exist for the facility.

Alameda County Supervisor 
Richard Valle
Gebhart said the hospital's shortfall will be the next focus of the county's health care services along with the St. Rose Hospital Sustainability Task Force led by Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle.

“Sustainability in any safety net hospital is a challenge and St. Rose is no exception," said Gebhart. "We have to work hard with the hospital every year to achieve sustainability.”

The county's allocation to St. Rose comes with a caveat for its operators, Alecto Healthcare. The deal is contingent upon the operator agreeing to a Memorandum of Understanding that prohibits it from using the allocation to reduce its debt under Alecto's purchase agreement for St. Rose Hospital.

The arrangement with Alecto was raised first by Gebhart and reiterated later by Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Alecto appears willing to sign the MOU, according to county staff, and the deal is close to being finalized.

Continuing financial difficulties at St. Rose Hospital underscore the hurdles stand-alone facilities primarily serving the indigent face within the current health care landscape

The viability of many health care facilities, not only in Alameda County, but the state and nation will likely be severely undermined by the repeal or wholesale changes to the Affordable Care Act.

"Health care is in a very precarious situation right now," Chan said Tuesday. Last week, an Alameda County Health Committee received testimony estimating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would immediately cost Alameda Health System, which primarily operates Highland Hospital and other stand-alone facilities in the East Bay, a staggering $96 million.

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